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REJUVENATION: Kempton Howard Park

Updated: Apr 20, 2021

Surface: woodchips

Updated April 2021 - old review here.

It was an Easter weekend of big changes at our house: our younger one dropped her nap and gave up her soother. Our older one made some mind-shifting realizations about the Easter Bunny, and by extrapolation, Santa and the tooth fairy. Add to this the chocolate-fueled excitement that is Easter and you have a long weekend in every sense of the word.

With all these changes going on, it felt fitting that we should visit a playground that had recently undergone some pretty big changes, too.

The 2020 rejuvenation of Kempton Howard Park’s playground isn’t quite as impressive as Moorevale’s, but it’s solid, and it makes nice use of the park’s sloping, multi-tiered nature.

The top tier, directly opposite Earl Grey Public School, is where the swing set sits. Two regular swings, one bucket seat, and one toddler swing, plus a nice saucer swing that a few local kids were using to launch themselves halfway down the hill. There’s also a permanent table tennis table on this level, which is a nice touch.

The second tier is where the bulk of the equipment lies; a toddler climber, a twin slide, a four-person teeter-totter. The highlight is a big rope climber by Berliner Seilfabrik – similar to the giant one at Morse Public School or the one at Degrassi Park that nearly gave me a heart attack one time.

And then there’s this other weird rope climber. I’ve never seen anything quite like it at any other playground. It’s vaguely hourglass-shaped, about fifteen feet high, and can spin – although it does so with an ear-piercing screech that dissuaded most people from spinning it while we were there. Just as strange: there was no manufacturer’s logo on it. The rest of the equipment is clearly marked as Landscape Structures or Kompan or Berliner Seilfabrik…but not this one. The only sticker on it that seemed at all related to its manufacture was one that noted its production date as “pre-2020” which is bizarrely non-specific.

Other small additions include a water element in the sandbox, and a water sprayer in what was previously a traditional wading pool (probably done to avoid having to pay a lifeguard) which makes the water play section either a below-average splash pad or an above-average wading pool.

Kempton Howard Park will not knock your socks off. But it’s a nice place to go. The gently sloping landscape is conducive to picnics, and the shady area with all the big rocks is good for hiding-and-seeking, which is what we spent much of our time doing.

Or rather, it’s what my kids spent much of their time doing, while I had an internal debate about whether our daughter will adjust to her new sleep schedule, or whether our son has lost his sense of wonder. But then two thoughts entered my mind. First, does it change the direction we're going? Is there ever any other direction to go than forward? Of course not. And second, just look at them. Scrambling away as I count to thirty, gleefully finding their next perfect hiding spot, as invested as any human can be in a game of hide-and-seek.

The whole experience was thoroughly rejuvenating.

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